Breaking down the South Region
The field is set. Now, it's time to break down the regions. Here's a look at the South.
Ten first impressions
1. We could be in for Kansas versus Roy Williams III. The Jayhawks defeated their former coach in the 2008 national semifinals and again last year in the Elite Eight. If KU and UNC win their opening-round games on Friday they'll face off once again, this time for a trip to the Sweet 16. There are a large number of Jayhawks fans who will never forgive Williams for leaving Kansas after 15 seasons to take over at North Carolina, his alma mater. He will likely be booed at Kansas City's Sprint Center, which will be utterly ridiculous.
2. Williams could pick up career win No. 700 if North Carolina defeats Villanova on Friday. Williams is 699-178 in 25 seasons for a winning percentage of .797. He's averaging 27.96 wins per season.
3. Kansas could face another nemesis in the Sweet 16 if both the Jayhawks and VCU advance. The Rams were one of the "last four teams in" in 2011 when they pulled off a massive upset by defeating Bill Self's squad in the Elite Eight. Kansas was the No. 1 seed that season and finished 35-3.
4. VCU's Shaka Smart will be facing one of his closest friends and confidants when the Rams take on Akron and coach Keith Dambrot. Smart and Dambrot were assistants together at Akron in 2003-04. Dambrot was named head coach the following season, and Smart remained on the staff for two more years.
5. Minnesota is struggling, with losses in seven of its past 10 games, but the Gophers got a favorable opening-round matchup against UCLA. The Bruins are the worst rebounding team in the Pac-12, while Minnesota's strength is crashing the boards. Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams could have their way with the Bruins down low. UCLA also is at a disadvantage because it will be playing without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams, who is out for the season after breaking a bone in his right foot Friday.
6. Florida can look like the best team in the country when it's blowing out an opponent, but the Gators have developed a habit of wilting when things get close down the stretch. Florida is 0-5 in games decided by six points or fewer. I like Florida's path to the Sweet 16, but it will definitely have to perform in clutch situations after that.
7. Don't sleep on Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles' 24-10 record includes a victory over No. 2 seed Miami back on Nov. 13. Georgetown could be in trouble if the Hoyas don't come to play. Last year we had two No. 15 seeds (Norfolk State and Lehigh) beat two No. 2s (Missouri and Duke). FGCU hopes to follow that trend. Coach Andy Enfield has done a phenomenal job with this program.
8. The South Dakota State versus Michigan game will feature two of the nation's top point guards in Jackrabbits star Nate Wolters and Wolverines standout Trey Burke. Wolters ranks fourth in the country with 22.7 points per game. Burke is a Wooden Award candidate who averages 6.7 assists and touts a national-best assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.31.
9. Can Michigan bounce back? The Wolverines enter the NCAA tournament toting losses in six of their past 12 games. A team that was ranked No. 1 in America in early February ended up being the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten tournament. It will be interesting to see which Michigan team shows up this week.
10. Oklahoma could easily be the happy-to-be-here team in South Region, as second-year coach Lon Kruger has the Sooners back in the NCAA tournament much more quickly than anyone expected. What's impressive is that, for the most part, Kruger is winning with players he inherited such as Romero Osby, Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald.
Five players to watch
Jeff Withey, Kansas: The 7-foot senior set an NCAA tournament record last season with 31 blocks in six games. Not many teams in the country have a defensive presence quite like Withey, who has been the most consistent player on KU's roster.
Trey Burke, Michigan: A sophomore, Burke was selected as the most valuable player in the Big Ten conference this season. He averages 19.2 points and shoots 47 percent. There's nothing not to like about Burke.
Otto Porter, Georgetown: The 6-foot-8 Porter is one of the most versatile players in the country. He can bring the ball up the court, shoot 3s, slash into the lane for a dunk or play in the paint with his back to the basket. He's the main reason why Georgetown won a share of the Big East title.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits senior is one of college basketball's most entertaining players to watch. He's as elite a scorer as there is in the game today. A 6-foot-4, Wolters' athleticism and ability to handle the ball make him incredibly difficult to guard.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: Franklin leads the Aztecs in points (16.7), rebounds (9.5) and assists (3.2). He could start for any program in the country. The junior seems to play his best in tight, highly competitive games.
Three round of 64 games to watch
North Carolina vs. Villanova: North Carolina has won eight of its past 10 games, but the Tar Heels haven't been tested as much as Villanova. That's because the Big East is significantly better than the ACC. Villanova defeated three top-five teams during the second half of the season. Jay Wright's squad won't be intimidated by the Tar Heels. Villanova also will have the backing of a Kansas City crowd that will no doubt be rooting against North Carolina.
VCU vs. Akron: The Rams and Zips are a lot alike in that they play a menacing style of defense that can wear down and rattle opponents. The similarities probably exist because of the close friendship between coaches Shaka Smart and Keith Dambrot. Smart considers Dambrot a mentor and has no doubt picked up things from him over the years.
Michigan vs. South Dakota State: Both teams can really score. Michigan averages 75.2 points a game while the Jackrabbits score 73.9 points per contest. With players such as Nate Wolters, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the court, this one could certainly be entertaining. Granted, it could also be ugly if Wolters isn't feeling it.
Three possible future matchups
Georgetown vs. Florida: The Hoyas and Gators attempted to open the season on the deck of a ship in Jacksonville, Fla. But the game was called at halftime when the court became too wet. Florida led 27-23. Look for these teams to meet in the Sweet 16.
Kansas vs. Michigan: The Jayhawks and Wolverines could meet in the Sweet 16. Both teams spent time ranked at No. 1 in early February. This game would certainly be entertaining. Kansas is more experienced and significantly better on the defensive end. Michigan boasts more offensive firepower and depth.
Kansas vs. Georgetown: Upsets are fun in the early rounds but, for the most part, fans want to see the best teams in the Final Four. The Jayhawks and Hoyas -- both regular-season champions of their respective conferences -- have no doubt had the best seasons of all the teams in this region. It would only be fitting if they met in the South final.
VCU has been so good in recent years that the Rams aren't going to sneak up on anyone. Still, they are an incredibly difficult team to prepare for on one day's rest because they play such a frenzied, unorthodox style. There simply isn't enough time to get ready for them. Florida Gulf Coast is probably better than a No. 15 seed. South Dakota State is capable of beating just about anyone if Wolters gets hot.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- Canty backs off Auburn commit, will visit USF
- Sources: Vols target La. Tech's White as coach
- Calipari to meet with those who may enter draft
- Sources: La.-Lafayette's Payton off to draft
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
IT'S TIME TO DANCE
A week ago, we thought we had answers. Then March Madness took its glorious and wild turns. Myron Medcalf: Sweet 16 field laughs »